Kevin Kelly, Executive Director of the American Diabetes Association of Southern Pennsylvania and Delaware, discussed diabetes, its forms and its ramifications to all of us. We began with a description of diabetes; Type 2, formerly called Juvenile Diabetes, which usually presents early in life and is the result of the body’s inability to produce insulin, and Type 2 which occurs when the body can no longer use the hormone, usually triggered by obesity, stress and lack of exercise. Mr. Kelly extended the types to include Gestational which usually disappears after delivery and Pre-Diabetes. While some cases are caused by genetics, and ethnic influences, many are the result of a poor lifestyle. He described his own journey with the disease, his ignoring his doctor’s warnings that he was headed toward the disease until he was actually diagnosed, and his efforts today to eat a healthy diet, exercise and lose weight. He discussed the ramifications of the disease, its impact o the body leading to cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, renal disease, eye disease and more. Diabetes causes more deaths each year than breast cancer and AIDs combines, and having it nearly doubles your chances of heart attack. We also talked about its impact on society, in PA diabetes costs us almost 13 billion each year in medical care, other services and lost wages, in DE the number is almost 100 million. There is also a disparity in its effects on the poor who have less access to healthy food choices or recreational activity. He noted that – if we don’t change our ways – by 2050 one half of us will be diagnosed and living with diabetes. He recommended that everyone go to their website to take the Risk Test. We talked about the American Diabetes Association’s mission, to prevent or find a cure, improve the lives of people with diabetes, and to educate all, including the medical trade and caregivers on the disease. They also advocate, working with – and informing – the state and federal legislators on diabetes, on costs, job security, health care and insurance. We noted that living with diabetes puts the onus on the patient to maintain and police their own health and Mr. Kelly explained that their mission will always include the people with diabetes, they offer an online FoodHub with healthy diet information, a hotline, and self-management and support programs. For kids, each year they offer a camp in Delaware to allow kids to kids, surrounded by others who share their diabetes. Finally, a discussion on how we can get involved, through volunteering or by participating in events such as the November 2 Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes and the upcoming June 15th Tour de Cure, a bike and walk/run starting in Doylestown. Bikers can choose 3, 12, 35 or 63 mile routes, walkers and runners go 5k and there will be a festival for all following the course.
For more information, to take the Risk Test or to volunteer or sign up for the Tour de Cure, go to DIABETES.ORG.